how much does a divorce cost

If you're looking for sneaky or aggressive ways to shake money from your soon-to-be ex, click off this post and look elsewhere.

But if you're going through a divorce, and are stressed about money, keep reading.

And if you ARE going through a divorce, or are divorced, there is a very good chance that financial issues are top of your stress list.

Research finds that divorce ranks as one of the most stressful life events, financial matters top the list of things that stress out divorcing people.

It is no wonder why, as divorced women statistically struggle financially after divorce.

A few years ago Census Bureau data found that divorced women earn less and are less likely to live independently.

Income, retirement savings and credit all disproportionally are hit for women, when compared with men.

For long-term planning and strategy for building an incredible life on your own terms, and with your own, big money, read my popular post: 11 financial steps for thriving as a single mom, or read my #1 bestselling book, The Kickass Single Mom.

Keep reading to find out more:

How much does a divorce cost?

On average, a divorce using attorneys costs each spouse $15,000, as divorce and family lawyers charge $200 per hour, up to $1,000 per hour or more in major cities like New York, San Fransisco, Chicago or Los Angeles. 

If you use a mediator, prices will likely be less. You can also file your own, uncontested divorce online for only the cost of filing fees, which cost between $70 and $450, depending on your state. 

You can also chose to use one of the best online divorce apps that help draft the filing and settlement, as well as connect you with an attorney.

If you need some quick cash to get you by this month and next, here are some excellent (and legal!) ways to make some real money, right away.

Create a divorce budget

A budget is an awesome tool to help you get control over an important part of your life (finances) during a time of chaos and uncertainty (divorce). By understanding exactly how much money is coming in now (not how much you hope you will win in your settlement), what your expenses are, you can start to make educated decisions about your future. This is exactly where to start! 

A budgeting app like MoneyPatrol is a great place to start. MoneyPatrol pulls in all your bank and credit card information to help you create, stick to and get alerts for your budget. Understand where your money goes, set goals, pay off debt, and reach goals. Get started with MoneyPatrol now >>

How to create a monthly budget that you can stick to — forever! 

Sell your engagement ring

Look, I know you used to love it, and maybe still do.

But trust me: you kids don't want a piece of jewelry that represents a marriage that went down in flames.

Just get rid of the damn thing, take the money, pay your bills, do something fabulous with it, just move on.

I've researched all the places to sell fine jewelry, and Worthy stands out, hands down.

Visit Worthy, the #1 online diamond and jewelry marketplace >>

Sell other jewelry and watches

I understand how sentimental jewelry can be.

But if you're not wearing it, don't enjoy it, or otherwise have skeezy feelings about fine jewelry (including items that are inherited and estate items, watches, loose diamonds, gold, or gifts from other people [other dudes, perhaps?!], that is untapped cash sitting in your jewelry box or safe, and it needs to go.

Sell your jewelry >>

Lower your bills with a bill cancellation service

There is a good chance that you subscribe to a number of services that you don't use or need (gym membership? streaming services you don't watch? online security apps?). There are some great bill cancelation services that will comb your bank or credit card accounts, identify recurring charges, and cancel for you any that you choose to. 

TrueBill takes it a step further, and will negotiate down bills, like your cell phone, Internet, cable, insurance and gym membership — for free. 

TrueBill saved me $16 off my monthly AT&T bill while also getting me a bigger plan, and $23.20 from my TimeWarner / Spectrum Internet bill.

Check out TrueBill now >>

Sell your wedding dress

I get that feel sentimental about it, worry your kids will want to see it, or wear it one day.

Yet there was heartbreak, and the union is over.

Down in flames, maybe. So many conflicting feelings about that gown.

Let me help you out here. Sell the damn thing.

Here is a whole post about ways to unburden yourself by purging your wedding dress.

My favorite online site for selling your wedding dress is NearlyNewlywed.

Read my review of NearlyNewlywed here.

Sell stuff you don't need

One of the best things that women do after divorce is downsize — move to a more affordable home that they can afford on their own, decorate on their own, and care for without a man. 

It is also important to purge your new home (or old one, if you stay put) of old mementos that hold you back: Clothes that no longer fit, or remind you of your ex, or sad times, gifts and mementos you no longer enjoy, need or like. 

Garage sales, tag sales, Craigslist, Facebook Market are all great ways to sell locally.

Gazelle or are great apps to help you sell old smartphones, computers, books, video games, DVDs and CDs, and tablets.

Thredup helps you sell quality clothes, shoes and accessories online (but don't be tempted to turn your profits into purchases — this site has great stuff!)

Refinance debt

Credit card, student loans, personal loans, mortgage, car note.

This might take a couple of months to sort out, but by smartly consolidating or refinancing loans, you can save big bucks each month debt repayment.

A 0% balance transfer credit card can make a huge difference. Find one here >>

If your credit score has seen better days, work right now on improving your score with credit repair.

Get your FREE credit score with Credit Karma.

Related: How single moms can pay off debt

Get a side gig and get your hustle on

Turn any extra time you have into cash.

This post explains 101 ways to make extra money, including side gigs: 101 ways to make money right now (most from home!).

One of my favorite single-mom resources in the world is FlexJobs, a site started by a mom, to help others find remote, telecommute, and flexible jobs, including high-paying professional career positions.  Read: FlexJobs job search website review

Get a life insurance quote

You may be paying too much for life insurance, or need less coverage than you did before. Also, now that you are a single mom, your kids and any other family member you care for are likely to rely on your income alone.

In other words: Pay attention to your life insurance premiums! 

Bestow life insurance guarantees no medical exam, and prices start at less than $8/month, for a $50,000, 10-year policy. Get a life insurance quote now from Bestow>>

Update your car, and homeowners or renters insurance

I realized that I was paying a $100 homeowners insurance rider for my now-sold engagement ring — three years too late!

If you are still in the same home you lived in with your ex, you are probably still on the same homeowners' policy.

Have you called your broker and revisited it?

Think about all the stuff your ex-owned, and was insured — vehicles, electronics, musical instruments, watches, and jewelry.

Even just his clothes added value to the household, and therefore the insurance premium.

Same with car insurance. He moved out — call your broker and reduce that bill! BAM.

Switch to a more affordable car

If your ride is more than you can afford, time to downgrade.

I appreciate that you might love your wheels, but you love financial independence and the lower stress that goes with it!

Read my post: Car buying for women for everything you need to know.

Spend unused gift cards

Literally, unused cash sitting in your wallet or desk drawer.

Be careful not to spend more than the gift!

Spend points and miles

Does your credit card, grocery or drug store, or airline have points that you can use as cash?

Stop hoarding them for something special (or because those points programs can be annoyingly complicated) and sit down and find a way to cash them it to pay for some basics.

Kick him off your cell phone plan

Be nice and let him know ahead of time.

Unload the storage unit

Most especially if it is full of his shit. BAM.

Make sure that all the assets you are owed are in fact transferred to you

When I was going through my own divorce, every step was so emotionally training, mentally painful, and financially exhausting.

There were weeks and even months when I procrastinated on taking the next step because I knew it would be yet another battle, more lawyer bills, and a cesspool of old emotional trauma that I'd have to relive.

That said: Press on, mama!

The sooner you wrap up the legal part of your divorce, the sooner those attorney bills stop arriving in your mailbox, and the sooner any money coming your way will, in fact, come your way.

Educate yourself about how property is divided in a divorce.

This includes:

  • Make sure any child support and extras are calculated and being paid automatically to your bank account via your ex's bank account
  • Real estate issues: Make sure that any steps regarding your home or other real estate are underway: Refinancing the home in the name of either your or your ex, list the home (or other property) for sale so you can get your share of the equity, or otherwise unburden yourself legally from any real estate debt
  • If you own cars, ensure that one is in your name only, and you are not on the hook for any car note that should be his.

Before you focus on the smaller savings, first pay attention to the initial cost of divorce. Online divorce is increasingly popular for a reason: The best way to save money is to not have to spend it in the first place.

Get an online divorce with CompleteCase for a flat $299>>

About Emma Johnson founder  Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.

1 Comment

  1. Xrayvsn on August 16, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    I went through an awful divorce myself (I launched my blog this year with a 5 part series called “I made every mistake on the book” and this was the one that financially and emotionally was the biggest hit to my net worth (7 figures). I actually started a divorce and fire series as well and would love for volunteers to share there story how divorce affected their path to FIRE

    This was a great resource of coming up with money during the actual Time of divorce which is incredibly stressful

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